Every so often, we hear about a strange radio signal that either is claimed to be from some extra-terrestrial source or from some unknown source that is equally bizarre.
After the show we did about the Bilderberg secret was jammed by some unknown source, a listener suggested that I talk about other incidences in history where strange sounds or even hijacked broadcasts have stumped radio engineers and sound technicians.
I thought the suggestion was timely because I have been reading about the infamous alien WOW signal that is a classic report of an extra-terrestrial signal a strong narrowband radio wave found by Jerry Ehman in 1977.
That radio burst, picked up by the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University in the United States, bore all the expected hallmarks of non-terrestrial origin but has not been detected since.
The WOW signal is back in the news again – as a scientist in Florida has attempted to give a more prosaic explanation about what it was.
A story circulating this month suggests the 40-year-old mystery of the so-called Wow! Alien signal from space has been solved, but a number of scientists aren’t convinced.
The Wow signal was a one-time blip picked up by Ohio State University’s “Big Ear” radio telescope in 1977 that appeared to be of extraterrestrial origin — so much so that astronomer Jerry R. Ehman wrote “Wow!” on a printout of the data. Others have tried to pick up the signal again over the ensuing decades without luck, allowing the mystery to endure.
A number of possible explanations, including a star or even aliens, have been proposed over the years without eliciting much consensus among scientists. The latest comes from Antonio Paris, an adjunct professor at Florida’s St. Petersburg College, who proposes in a newspaper that the Wow signal came not from aliens, but from comets.
Paris’ basic proposal is that the clouds of hydrogen emitted by two comets that were in the neighborhood “are strong candidates for the source of the 1977 ‘Wow’ signal.” This hypothesis doesn’t sit well with a number of scientists, however.
Even Seth Shostak, who has always been a skeptic at the SETI institute, cites the comments of Robert Dixon, who was director of the Ohio State observatory back in 1977. “Dixon said that the comets were nowhere near the telescope’s sight lines when the signal was found.”
Meanwhile, the search for a second occurrence of the Wow signal anomaly continues. Shostak says the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array keeps listening.
We all know that radio signals are powerful, and that some of the strangest sound can come from radio frequencies that are being monitored – by radio telescopes.
We have reproduced some of these signals on the air many times and they never fail to be interesting.
One of my favorite subjects is the phenomenon known as the Numbers Station. A lot of people are still unaware that to this day, the cold war technique of sending numbers, chirps and chimes over the shortwave radio is used to alert intelligence agents in the field of some major event that is supposed to happen.
Since World War I, it is believed that numbers being broadcast are secret codes that are sent to agents who are told to listen to a frequency to get their orders. When traffic is especially heavy on the radios, it is believed that some major event is about to take place whether it be a coup or a full on war.
In June of 2010, the FBI arrested 10 people for allegedly serving for years as secret agents of Russia’s intelligence with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policy-making circles. People, I am sure, were shocked about this. It sounds like something straight out of a cold war blockbuster.
They were asked by Russian intelligence to learn all they could about our nuclear weapons and where they are positioned, policies about Iran, White House rumors, CIA leadership turnover, the last presidential election and the Congress and political parties.
What was the tool they used to receive their orders? It was a shortwave radio. It wasn’t sophisticated or high tech it was just a simple 1920’s era technology. The spies would sit down in front of their radios with spiral notebooks and write down a series of numbers.
The most important thing to remember is that these numbers can be heard by anyone in the United States. All they have to do is find the frequency in the spectrum that according to a report was somewhere near the BBC reports and Radio France broadcast. You just wait for a beep, buzz, tone or music indicator and jumping from one continent to another is your home of smooth classic espionage without any commercial interruption. Spies don’t even have to be caller nine to get their prize. The information they get is in numbers, dots and dashes. All they need to do is decode it.
A lot of people may say that the Russian technology is way behind if their spies are forced to sit around a stone-age shortwave radio to get their information. However, the Russians are not the only ones sending out numbers codes. MI6 in the United Kingdom has number stations relays all over the world. Israel has been known to use the some methods and the United States does as well.
What better way to get intelligence? You need technology that doesn’t leave an electronic footprint. We all know that phone calls can be traced and that internet IP addresses can also be located. Numbers stations give some anonymity and they can easily be picked up and decoded.
Those who hear the numbers don’t have a clue as to what they mean and what they are for, so it is a brilliant concept. Radio enthusiasts call the broadcasts spook communications or spook broadcasts. They hunt up and down the dial to find numbers stations and some try to crack the number codes.
The numbers stations are eerie. They have a paranormal nature about them. They play a signature music selection, a few beeps and then the monotone voice of a person counting.
One thing that these numbers stations do is allow spies or agents blend in with the average person. The idea that crackdowns and measures at the airports by the TSA or border surveillance do any good to keep unwanted spies or terrorists out of the country is completely without merit. We are being watched, studied and at times, manipulated by skilled foreign operatives.
Meanwhile, U.S. counterintelligence efforts face serious challenges in keeping up with that spy threat. When Homeland Security says that they are hearing chatter about possible terrorist threats all they are hearing is the number station frequencies sending off random numbers that may or may not be the code numbers for detonating a dirty bomb or blowing up a shopping center.
The stations are hard to find and they are unlicensed. The biggest cover up of all is that no one ever admits to running one or making the broadcasts. This lends credence to the idea that the stations themselves are automated and move from location to location to avoid detection.
In 1976, U.S. Intelligence was monitoring radar and electromagnetic signals from the Soviet Union. What had their attention was a pulsing signal that was being sent at 3.26 and 17.54 megahertz. The pulsing signal modulated at a rate of several times a second, resembling the sound of a woodpecker. It was soon traced to an enormous transmitter array near Kiev in the Ukraine.
Within a year of its discovery, people in Canada, Washington state and Oregon were complaining of all kinds of maladies. Eugene, Oregon suffered the most. People complained of pressure headaches, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, lack of coordination, and numbness, accompanied by a high-pitched ringing in the ears.
No one had really thought of the possibility that strong electromagnetic microwave radiation could have caused these symptoms. However, residents between Eugene and Corvallis, Oregon were being subjected to a powerful radio attack with a signal centering at 4.75 Megahertz.
People were claiming to hear tones in their ears and later feeling sick and fatigued. There were unsubstantiated theories that were taken as fact as to what was causing these health problems. One such theory was that winter damaged power lines were emanating frequencies and tones to the ultra sensitive ear.
It was later realized that something nefarious was happening with the so-called ‘Woodpecker Signal‘. It was being targeted to Oregon by a by a Tesla-magnifying transmitter.
This technology was able to beam a radio signal through the earth to any desired point on its surface. It could even increase the signal’s power as it emerged from the earth. It was speculated that a Navy ELF communications system using an 850-mile power line was jamming a Soviet pulse signal.
Back then the systems were new and their power was obviously capable of harming human nervous systems and brain function.
My listeners are acquainted with the Russian Buzzer broadcasts.
Shortwave radio enthusiasts, for decades have been listening to the internal communication network of the western division of the Russian armed forces. The buzz of UVB-76 has been a reminder of the cold war and while it was thought it would cease after the fall of communism, it has been suggested recently that the commands that have been given have something to do with nuclear war preparations and that these preparations have been going on for four years.
There have been reports that the buzzer has turned off for a while and then reappears and if you just happen to be listening – there have been Russian voices giving commands and numbers.
One day the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, and string of Russian names: “Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.” But the balance of the airtime was filled by the continuous buzzing.
Random noise, buzzing, tones, warbles, rotary, pulse, spark, recorded sounds are all used for radio transmission and in some cases radio jamming; both, obvious and subtle from frequency overrides.
Radio or TV signal hijacking can be frightening because many times it is hard to find out just who or what is doing it.
For example, KTWO 1030 AM in Casper, Wyoming experienced what only can be called a signal intrusion when the country station all of a sudden heard a very loud voice of what sounded like a preacher doing a revival. The intrusion happened at approximately 11:30 PM MST On December 6th, 2010. The phantom broadcast was followed by the station ID, which occurred at roughly 11:57, leaving three minutes of dead air.
There have been case histories of power frequency overrides that can be used to shut down signals and even hijack broadcasts. These tactics are at least 30 years old and were first heard about when a signal hijacker known as Captain Midnight sent a four minute signal over the HBO broadcast of “The Falcon and The Snowman” that aired in April of 1986. The message he sent was over color bars. It was a printed message that said “Good Evening HBO from Captain Midnight $12.95 a month? No way! Showtime movie channel beware.”
This was the beginning of a few well known incidents that have been recorded and labeled as signal intrusions. Many of them have been chilling and created panic as normal TV broadcasts become hijacked in a form of signal terrorism. Many will call this type of activity hacking, however it is more sophisticated than that. In the case of the Max Headroom signal intrusion of 1987 two Chicago television stations were hijacked for a brief period during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The first occurrence of the signal intrusion took place during WGN-TV channel 9’s live telecast of its prime time newscast, The Nine O’clock News. During Chicago Bears highlights in the sports report, the station’s signal was interrupted for about half a minute by a video of a person wearing a Max Headroom mask, standing in front of a swaying sheet of corrugated metal, which imitated the background effect in the Max Headroom TV and movie appearances. There was no audio, only a buzzing noise. The hijack was stopped after engineers at WGN switched the frequency of their studio link to the John Hancock Center transmitter.
Later that night, around 11:15 pm, during a broadcast of the Doctor Who serial ‘Horror of Fang Rock’, PBS station WTTW channel 11’s signal was hijacked using the same video that was broadcast during the WGN-TV hijack, this time with distorted audio. The person in the Max Headroom mask appeared, as before, this time with a political message. He ended the broadcast with some exposed body parts and howling “Oh no, they’re coming to get me!” The transmission then blacked out and cut off, and the hijack was over after about 90 seconds.
WTTW, which maintains its transmitter atop the Sears Tower, found that its engineers were unable to stop the hijacker. According to station spokesman Anders Yocom, technicians monitoring the transmission “attempted to take corrective measures“, but couldn’t.
Making the rounds on the Internet is the discovery of a possible signal intrusion that happened in 1985. The report first appeared on the Above Top Secret website, Red Ice Creations and Who Forted a site dedicated to Fortean phenomena.
The controversial signal was broadcast over regular programming heard on WKCR 89.9 New York. While many people are of the opinion that the broadcast is some sort of paranormal event, the claim is that it was simply a signal intrusion recorded on cassette boom box player with the person asking if anyone remembers the incident and if so could they please explain it?
Needless to say, the broadcast is chilling and has caused a bit of stir on the Internet as skeptics are trying to debunk a so called paranormal intrusion, rather than trying to understand if it was intentional or a temporary hijacking of the station’s signal.
An incident where phone signals were jammed happened at WFTL Fort Lauderdale Florida.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s Sunday night radio in South Florida was mostly talk shows after 10PM.
One night, talk show host Alan Moore was conducting a discussion about the Devil’s Triangle, the host would invite the listeners to call in and give his or her ideas about what Devil’s Triangle really was, all calls we’re recorded.
Moore was attempting to take calls when five of his six lines were jammed. He picked up sixth line to find a man with a very deep voice and refined accent telling him that the Devil’s Triangle is an aura of some kind.
Many people were convinced that the man on the other line was an alien trying to explain what goes on in The Devil’s Triangle.
A similar paranormal Fortean allegation is of course the granddaddy of all intrusions which happened in 1977 where an alleged alien broadcast intruded a number of television stations in the United Kingdom.
Vrillon, a purported representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, was the name used by an unidentified voice who broadcast on the Hannington transmitter of Southern Television in the United Kingdom for six minutes at 5:10 PM on Saturday November 26, 1977. The voice, which was disguised and accompanied by a deep buzzing, broke into a broadcast by Independent Television News to warn viewers of “the destiny of your race” and “so that you may communicate to your fellow beings the course you must take to avoid a disaster which threatens your world and the beings on other worlds around you.”
As the broadcast did not affect the video signal, it was difficult to detect its source, and the transmission disappeared at the end of what sounded like a prepared statement. Most observers have concluded that the broadcast was a hoax, achieved by directing a powerful signal at the Hannington UHF transmitter.
However, if it was a hoax it was a very well thought out and difficult hoax to conduct. It was reported that if there was any signal hijacking the transmitters would go on fail safe shutdown, however engineers were not aware that the signal had been compromised and believe it or not the incident has been claimed as either a paranormal event or an elaborate hoax and not a pirated signal incident.
Engineers say that it was a “rogue transmission” as the signal faded back, various random sound clips are heard which were picked up from scrambled channels, such as the Looney Tunes cartoon theme song and the Art Davis cartoon “The Goofy Gophers”. In addition, other music can be heard along with what sounds like an explosion and various weird noises.
When our signal was jammed during the Bilderberg North Korea show (So Long, Farewell – A bomb in the Back yard) – our failsafe did shut down and we were forced to move to another transmitter. I was unaware that the incident happened until after our signal was echoing.
It has been four days since the incident occurred and now we have to manually dial up the transmitter until further notice for security reasons.